Isaiah J. Poole

Trump’s Bid to Pit Black and Brown Workers Against Each Other

President Trump has resurrected an old canard in his effort to sell a new effort to restrict immigration into the United States. The legislation he backs, he said at a White House ceremony, was necessary in part to protect “minority workers competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals” under the current immigration system. This theme is a hardy perennial in right-wing media and think-tank reports, often featuring members of a small but persistent cadre of conservative black people willing to be the face of the pernicious idea that in order to boost the fortunes of African Americans, we have to keep new immigrants out of the country. This notion keeps getting debunked, but Trump trotted it out anyway as his administration launches key assaults against the core concerns of African-American people.

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Richard Eskow

Land Taken From Freed Slave’s Descendants for Amazon Data Center?

This is a story about property: real and imagined, legitimate and illegitimate. It’s a story about who gets to decide who can own what, and whom. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons It’s a story of reality, both physical and virtual. It’s a story that begins with humans in chains, moves through Disney’s desire to make a theme park out of our most painful history, and ends with the descendants of slaves dispossessed by a company owned by one of the richest people in the world, a company named for a river. That river runs through the churning electrical heart of the American internet. It’s also the story of eminent domain gone wrong. We live in a nation that seizes the property of working people while helping the wealthiest among us to carry out some of the greatest property grabs in history.

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Richard Eskow

Kochs and Trump Team Up to Cut Billionaires’ Taxes

This headline appeared on Monday, July 31, 2017, at precisely 4:00 am: “Koch Brothers Move to Back White House’s Tax-Cut Plan.” This one appeared less than twelve hours later: “White House sees tax reform zipping through Congress in October, November.” That’s what you get when you combine the Kochs’ money and influence with Trump’s executive power and support from the Republican base: a unified Republican Party marching in lockstep toward a destructive goal. The Kochs’ much-publicized hostility toward Donald Trump has been replaced by a strategic alliance between the ideologically extreme billionaire brothers and the ideologically fluid but equally self-serving businessman/president.

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Leo Gerard

Don’t Dawdle on Economic and National Security

The future of the American steel and aluminum industries is not a matter for dithering. Each mill and smelter that remains operating is too vital. Each is too crucial to the economic viability of a corporation, a community, and thousands of workers and their families. Each also is too essential to national security, which relies on American-produced metals for critical infrastructure, from bridge construction to the electrical grid, and for munitions, from fighter jets to bullet-proof vests. There is no more time for waiting. International trade law must be enforced now. Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump pledged his support to workers and these industries. And he followed through by launching within three months of taking office as president special investigations into the effects of steel and aluminum imports on national security.

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Sam Pizzigati

Democrats Need to Go Bolder on Jobs, Not Backwards

The Democratic Party’s congressional leadership has just unveiled a new slogan — and set of policy proposals — to help the party prep for the 2018 midterm elections ­­. The slogan — “A Better Deal” — has underwhelmed just about everyone outside of the Democratic Party’s congressional leadership. The actual policy piece has fared only a little bit better. This policy piece includes three initial specific policy prescriptions, and all three arguably take “the side of working people,” the goal the Senate’s top Democrat, New York’s Chuck Schumer, has spelled out for the “Better Deal” effort. Average Americans would without question be better off if Congress made pharmaceuticals cheaper, expanded on-the-job training, and cracked down on corporate mergers that pad the pockets of investors and raise prices for everyone else.

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LeeAnn Hall

People, Not Politicians, Beat Health Care Repeal

In Friday’s early morning hours, news outlets had their spotlights trained on Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), casting him as the decisive player in the latest health repeal drama. Photo credit: CSPAN When McCain walked to the front of the room, flagged the clerk, and gave a thumbs down, reporters immediately dashed out of the gallery to pound out stories about the “maverick” move. It was a dramatic moment, in a dramatic week, in a dramatic presidency. It’s the kind of political theater that sells newspapers and keeps 24-hour cable pundits in business. The Real Story But the most important parts of the story have little to do with the dramatic gestures of the senior senator from Arizona, who largely objected to the bill for procedural reasons, rather than the fact that it would kick tens of millions of people off health care to give tax cuts to billionaires.

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Jeff Bryant

5 Reasons Why Democrats’ ‘Better Deal’ Must Include Public Education

The Democratic Party rolled out “A Better Deal” this week, aimed at winning back working-class voters. The populist pitch takes aim at corporate power, a refreshing change for a party too often in thrall to Wall Street. But ‘A Better Deal’ is virtually silent on the topic of public education—and that’s a major missed opportunity. With the Trump/DeVos agenda of budget cuts and school privatization deeply unpopular even among the president’s supporters, now is an ideal time for Democrats to speak up on behalf of public schools. Here are five reasons why. 1.

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Lois Gibbs

Protecting Superfunds: The Polluter Must Pay

The toxic legacy of Love Canal means we must protect the power of communities to hold polluters accountable. Photo Credit: Tatiana Grozetskaya/Shutterstock It has been almost 40 years since the nation heard the cries for help from Love Canal, where a school and neighborhood in Niagara Falls, New York, was built on a toxic dump filled with 21,000 tons of chemical waste. Children were sick, parents were scared and families lost their homes. I know, because my children, my family and my home were among them. The Love Canal crisis created public awareness and a scientific understanding that the chemicals people are exposed to in their everyday environment can cause serious harm to their health, especially to pregnant women and young children. This understanding of the serious risks of living near pollution was the impetus to creating the Superfund program in 1980.

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Evan Burger

Iowans Ready to Turn Political Revolution Into Reality

I was among the more than a thousand Iowans who recently packed into Des Moines’ HyVee Hall for “Revolution Iowa: From Protest to Power,” a day-long event organized by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI). State and national media were drawn by speculation keynote speaker Bernie Sanders might be there to lay groundwork for a 2020 presidential bid. Photo credit: Dan Welk for Iowa CCI But the main event for me was to see so many Iowans, from so many walks of life, coming together around people-first issues that affect us all – from housing and racial discrimination to protecting clean water and family farms – and coming up with fresh strategies to address them. “We need something new,” says Cherie Mortice.

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Jeff Bryant

Problems Posed By School Choice Can’t Be Ignored

Enraged school choice advocates stormed the Internet over the past few days to defend their cause from criticism no matter how reasonable. What sparked the anger of remarkably thin-skinned proponents of charter schools and school voucher programs were criticisms that school choice without proper governance has, and can still, increase racial segregation and undermine the public schools that low-income communities of color rely on to educate their children. The objects of their wrath, specifically, were a speech given by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on school vouchers and a report issued by the national NAACP on charter schools. In her speech, Weingarten had the temerity to point out, “Decades ago, the term ‘choice’ was used to cloak overt racism by segregationist politicians.” That assertion has a basis in fact.

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Richard Eskow

The Mooch, the Donald, and the Goldmanization of Government

Donald Trump’s White House seems more like a Quentin Tarantino movie every day. Amid allegations of broken laws and self-dealing at the highest levels, the president has now hired a Communications Director called “The Mooch.” The name brings to mind the famous “Mr. Pink” scene from Reservoir Dogs, where a macho Harvey Keitel resents being given that appellation during a heist and wants to trade names with another crook. You can almost hear it now: “Why am I The Mooch?” Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / CC t’s true that most members of Trump’s team, including the president himself, could easily trade nicknames with Anthony Scaramucci. They’re all moochers. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was tied to a student loan firm and her department’s actions directly benefited the family of a senior DeVos aide, who resigned after the conflict of interest came to light.

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Robert Borosage

Democrats Are Finally Waking Up

Congressional Democrats rolled out an economic agenda for the 2018 elections this week, and despite its bland title, “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future,” the overview document and agenda reflect the growing strength and influence of the populist movement in the Democratic Party. At the same time, Our Revolution, the group growing out of the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign, the National Nurses Union, Fight for 15, People’s Action and others launched the “Summer of Progress,” an activist push to get at least half of the Democratic House members to endorse the “People’s Platform.” The contrast between the two documents reveals why the activist push is needed. Both the People’s Platform and the Better Deal agenda are designed to offer a small number of bold, clear reforms to put before voters.

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Sam Pizzigati

U.S. Leads World in Inequality, and It Is Getting Worse

Two years ago, in 2015, just about all the nations in the world came together and agreed to make reducing inequality — the gap between rich and poor — a prime United Nations “sustainable development goal.” A noble gesture. But UN groups make noble gestures all the time. These gestures do sometimes translate into real progress. They more typically amount to blowing smoke — and obscuring how little progress governments may actually be making. How can we tell which nations are just blowing that smoke? People worldwide clearly need global measures — comparative yardsticks — that can help average citizens hold their governments accountable to all their noble rhetoric. On inequality, we now have one such yardstick.

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Miles Mogulescu

Repeal John McCain’s Government-Sponsored Health Care

John McCain made his dramatic return to the Senate on Wednesday to cast the deciding vote to allow Mitch McConnell to proceed with attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. It was a vote of appalling hypocrisy. McCain is able to pay for his surgery — and the likely exorbitant costs for future treatment of his brain tumor — because, as a member of Congress, he’s entitled to government-subsidized health insurance. His vote gave Mitch McConnell the ability to strip millions of other Americans of government-subsidized insurance that’s he, and other members of Congress, take for granted. McCain’s subsequent speech lamenting the McConnell’s process for ramming through Obamacare repeal only increased McCain’s hypocrisy, since his actually vote enabled McConnell. McCain’s office failed to respond to CNN’s request on how McCain gets his insurance.

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Julie Chinitz

The GOP’s Trojan Horse on Health Care Repeal

On Tuesday, 50 Republican senators showed contempt for their constituents by voting to move forward on repealing our health care, with Vice President Mike Pence stepping in to break the tie. Photo credit: CSPAN Nine GOP senators later broke ranks in a late-night session to vote down the Senate’s toxic version of the bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) – which would have rolled back much of the Affordable Care Act and gutted Medicaid, ending coverage for 22 million – but there are more votes to come, including one that may simply repeal care and and strip coverage from 32 million. The final version of the bill may be nothing more than a placeholder – a Trojan horse for setting up a Republican Senate-House conference committee that will use yet another secretive, undemocratic process to craft yet another version of health repeal.

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Jeff Bryant

A Southern California District Resists Bad Education Policy

“Aren’t you cold?” My hosts waiting for me in front of Millikan High School were wearing full winter wear—dark coats and scarves, knit caps pulled over ears. I’m in shirtsleeves. “No,” I replied. It’s 58 degrees—a February cold wave for them but a nice spring day for me. Photo credit: Jeff Bryant This is Southern California, where perpetually sunny, temperate weather can make the place seem otherworldly for the rest of us. The region best known for Disneyland—a.k.a. “the happiest place on Earth”—is also home to Hollywood, world leader of the make-believe industry. Signs at some intersections alert you to surfer crossings. Both the beer and the wine are local. People pick avocados and limes in their backyards. I went to Millikan High School, in the heart of Long Beach, to find out what makes the public schools there special, too.

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Richard Eskow

If Hell Had a Budget: The GOP Breaks the Ten Commandments

A heat wave gripped Washington D.C. last week, its bright sun delineating each building’s sharp corners with Edward Hopper-like clarity. Commuters waited listlessly for trains and buses, fixed in their moments of misery like flies in amber. Photo credit: Infografika / CC If the city seemed like Hell, the resemblance was only heightened by the shadowy figures passing by in black chauffeured vehicles, their faces hidden by smoked glass as they glided through the city in air-conditioned comfort. Some of those vehicles carried the Republican Congressional leaders who were finalizing the House GOP’s 2018 budget, which the House Budget Committee sent to the floor last Wednesday. If hell had a fiscal policy, it would look a lot like that document. Breaking Commandments This budget is a wish list for millionaires, billionaires, and corporate special interests.

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Jessica Juarez Scruggs

It’s (Loan) Shark Week: Families are Biting Back!

It’s Shark Week, but the most dangerous predators this year aren’t on TV or at the beaches – they are in Washington D.C., where they are menacing families with the help of their chums in Congress. From payday loan sharks to Wall Street bottom-feeders, financial predators of all shapes and sizes are descending on our capital to take a bite out of financial protections. Over the past six months, we’ve seen these sharks swarm in a feeding frenzy on our rights. GOP-backed Trumpcare wants to destroy Medicare and Medicaid, and take health care away from millions of Americans. The Trump administration’s proposed budget slashes funds for public housing, food assistance and protecting the environment.

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Richard Eskow

On the CFPB’s Birthday, Stand Against Sharks

July 21 marks the six-year anniversary of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created in the wake of the Wall Street crime wave that led to the financial crisis of 2008. The CFPB was first conceived by law professor Elizabeth Warren, now Senator Warren from Massachusetts, as an agency that could protect the American people from being mistreated, defrauded, and otherwise ripped off by powerful bankers who ran institutions that engaged in massive criminal behavior and yet never spent a day in jail. It is a day to celebrate, and a day to fight. Why Celebrate? Why celebrate? Because, despite a number of attempts to tie its hands, the CFPB has been enormously successful. It has provided almost $12 billion in relief to 29 million victims of bank malfeasance.

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Jeff Bryant

Budget Austerity Treats Public-School Parents Like Criminals

In researching an upcoming article I’m writing about the St. Louis school system, and the district’s ongoing funding crisis, I came across an astonishing example of who wins and who loses in current approaches to government budget balancing. As a local St. Louis reporter tells it, during a public meeting about a proposed new $130 million 34-story apartment building in the city, alderman Joe Roddy used a slideshow to make a case for why the city should give the developers 15 years of reduced property taxes, a $10 million subsidy, in exchange for some additional retail space and 305 high-end, luxury apartments downtown. In a slide show titled “How the City Makes & Spends Money,” Roddy, a Democrat mind you, laid out a hierarchy of those who “make money” for the city at the top and those who cause the city to “spend money” at the bottom.

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